Homes badly damaged by alcohol distillery blaze
Residents living close to the Alcohols Ltd distillery in the West Midlands, where a major blaze broke out on Monday November 26th, have spoken to the BBC about the damage done to their homes.
The incident occurred on Hall Street in Oldbury shortly before 10am, causing a huge fireball and plumes of thick black smoke to billow up into the air.
Several families were evacuated from their properties while firefighters from across the region battled to extinguish the flames, closing surrounding roads and putting a fire safety cordon in place.
Fortunately there was only one reported injury involving a worker at the factory who suffered burns. He has since been released from hospital.
But properties in the area close to the fire did not escape unscathed, with homeowners reporting melted window frames, twisted guttering and smoke damage.
"We've got cracks in the walls in most of the rooms from the heat of the flames," said local woman Harbhajan Kaur.
"I'd left the bathroom window open, and when I got back in the house there was smoke damage and ash everywhere. It took me two, three days of cleaning."
She also said the fire had damaged her home's smoke alarm as well as several lights.
Local councillor Jayne Wilkinson lives opposite the factory. Her car was declared a write-off after the back of it melted in the heat, while the drainpipes on her property have melted.
Her windows have also had to be boarded up because the frames have been so badly damaged.
Ms Wilkinson said she is now questioning why there were no procedures in place advising residents what to do in the event of a major incident like this one.
"It meant lots of people were left with nothing than what they escaped from their homes with, and the information we needed just wasn't there," she explained.
Ms Wilkinson also claimed that many of the people living near the site do not want to see the factory rebuilt.
"We're nervous enough that the scorched storage tanks will still need draining of their chemicals - none of us want to be around when that happens," she remarked.
The Health and Safety Executive is currently carrying out an investigation into the fire.